Considering their contributions to the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos this year, you could be forgiven for thinking Daisy Bateman and Tahila Randall are seasoned veterans of AFLW.
But the pair entered the 2021 AFLW season under the age of 22, and have capped off stellar individual seasons with nominations in the AFLW 22under22 side.
The 22under22 side is a fan-voted team made up of the best young players in the AFLW, with supporters selecting the side from an initial squad of 40 players.
Both players were ever present for North this season, as they played in every home and away game, plus last week’s qualifying final against Collingwood.
Coach Darren Crocker says the Roos' young guns deserve the accolades that are coming their way.
“It’s really good recognition for both of those girls,” Crocker told North Media.
“They’ve both shown their capacity to be really good players … [and] they’ve still got a lot of growth in their games.”
Playing in the forward line and on the wing, Bateman impressed with her accuracy, tenacity and ability to find the football in big moments.
She earned a Rising Star nomination in round six, kicking two goals and gathering 14 disposals in a dominant forward display against Richmond.
Crocker said he was most impressed with Bateman’s mentality, and backed her to improve even more next season.
“I know she’s not happy with where she’s at and wants to work to become a really good player in this AFLW system,” he said.
“[She] bobbed up at some really important stages and kicked some really important goals.
“It’s a tough role playing that small to medium forward, and she kicked eight goals for the season.”
Randall experienced something of a breakout year at the heart of North’s defence, having made her AFLW debut in 2017.
Forming a near impenetrable partnership with fellow defender Danielle Hardiman, Randall’s toughness in the contest and aerial ability often strangled the opposition’s best forward.
Crocker said while Randall was exceptional this season, she could go on to become one of the premier players in the competition.
“Tahlia has the attributes in her game, and I’ve said this to her openly, to be pushing for All-Australian at some point,” he added.
“She’s athletic, she’s competitive, she’s got a thumping kick … she’s a really good player and is really developing.”